Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of returning heroes

12th March 2017

It's been a pleasant weekend here in delightful Derbyshire, the rain has stopped and today was positively spring-like. I shouldn't put a jinx on it though. Probably by Friday we'll have storm 'Egbert' or some such with snow hail and hurricane winds. As my old geography master used to say 'Britain doesn't have a climate, only weather – discuss'. Strange how if we then tried to discuss it between ourselves we were always told to be quiet.

Things are getting back to normal but nearly went wonky on Wednesday. The info I had from Fox was that Charlie would be despatched Wednesday and arrive at Rowsley on Thursday, and we had this confirmed by Allelys. But messages got twisted, and it seems the driver was told to get down there early, get it moved and unloaded at Rowsley during Wednesday! The first we knew was when one of my regular readers texted Andrew to say he'd seen Charlie heading north up the M1, which was far earlier than we had expected and rang alarm bells. We had not, at that point, received any response to the e-mail I had sent Peak Rail's Joint MD, Mrs Statham, as to whether the loco would be accepted or not on Thursday, let alone Wednesday. In fact the lorry's arrival at Longcross had taken Fox by surprise, as they were using it at the time to position the train from the film for storage!

Anyway, a phone call or two to Allelys and the driver was instructed not to unload at Rowsley until Thursday, by which time, he later told me, he was only 5 minutes from Rowsley and had he known he would have headed home for the night and brought it over Thursday morning! Hey ho, these things happen, and back home a call to Harvey C confirmed that the loco was expected and accepted and we agreed to move it first thing the next morning.

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So I popped down to Rowsley a bit before nine, and the crew were still asleep! After a little while the cab swayed a bit, the engine started and the curtains drew back. I explained the situation and left them while I doive down to Darley, get my ovvies on and walk back to Rowsley. When I returned they were just about to winch it down so I fired it up and rode it down the ramp, and moved it clear for them to reconnect. I went over it to complete the FTR form, slightly awkward as thanks to their unexpectedly early arrival at Longcross, Fox hadn't had time to remove the 'coupling' fabrication as they had still been using it! Had it been the other way around, it might have been really a nuisance but for the purposes of the mile or so run to Darley, it ought to be no problem.

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By late morning Charlie was back at Darley, and I was home catching up with overdue admin.

On Friday, amongst other things, I dropped the leaking press ram in at a firm in Sheffield who will be fixing it next week, and went to see my favourite foundry about casting a few Avonside sandbox lids from the original lent to me by Rocks by Rail. Needless to say the complexity of the casting – with a small piece of steel rod set into a recess in the middle as a finger-grip – precludes casting directly off it so it will be used as a model from which to make a new casting. I'll stick it on my website after but if anyone you know is in need to a replica Avonside sandbox lid, please pass the word along!

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So Saturday, and we were both down at the shed but without any of Team Frod (who were off viewing a loco that another group has approached them about working on) and trying to concentrate on tidying up, ready for the Phoenix Railtours party next Saturday. I brought Charlie over to the shed and set up to start cutting off the Fox fabrication, but after a half-hour or so I came to the conclusion that it might make more sense to gas most of it off and grind the rest smooth. Andrew said we'd deal with it later but never quite got around to it. Equally there's been some minor damage to one sandbox and pipe, which we will address in due course. Dave H, Peak Rail's Assistant Signalling Manager (or some such title) dropped in for a cuppa and a natter.

During this my mobile rang and Dave L, Darley's Stationmaster, asked if I was free as a couple of enthusiasts were asking to look around. I duly dropped what I was doing and gave them the full tour: they said they had never visited the railway before and were unaware anything was here, but later dropped a remark that their book had not had such-and-such a loco as being 'here' – which either meant that they were telling porkies or that their source still listed everything at Rowsley. Not that I was that bothered, they'd still have been welcomed for a tour, but I must work out a better strategy for lingering subtly by the donations tin as any recompense for my time was not forthcoming!

It had been arranged that Ben R would stay overnight at the Briddon Country Pile as he and Andrew would make an early start down to the swapmeet at Quorn. Amazingly Andrew was up by ten-past-six and away just after half-past, leaving me to saunter down to the shed and get on with a few things. Charlie was deployed and brought the 03 and the 14 as near to the shed as I could, and the batteries put on charge lest they needed a boost ready for any awkward starting. In fact, the charger could not make much improvement on them, so I left it set up for later and did some general tidying and sundry jobs. Andy H arrived just after noon and a while later Andrew arrived with my lunch, having spent a few quid himself but brought back Ben and his acquisitions and delivered them to Rowsley. Between us we removed the remaining brackets from the Mk2 header tank arrangement and installed the Mk3. I also exchanged both the fuel filters, first opening the bleed plugs on the bottom of the filter bowls and getting out something decidedly watery. One filter was clearly clogged towards the bottom 30% with algae-poo, but not as much as I'd expected, so what I found in the upper tank was either so fine it had passed through the filter or accidentally we had added live algae/bacteria in the course of initially filling the header. We may never know, but having turned on the power and primed the lube oil it fired up first time and ran.

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After tidying up a bit we moved the other two locos to the end of the headshunt and drove the 14 up and down – the gearbox proving especially reluctant to go into forwards and the whole loco a little slow to engage drive – but as I noticed later, the transmission pressure gauge, which normally moves up to a bar once you've engaged the Voith, was showing nothing so that goes on the snag list. A week or so ago, I came across in the container, one of the old fault displays I'd used in YEC days, when the electronics were EPROM based. In essence it was a box of LEDs, each one lit to warn of a specific fault or other condition. Now at the moment fault advice on the 14's PLC is linked to combinations of colour and flashing on a single “fault” LED which I can't remember even though I programmed it. Given that a text display was not on Andrew's list, I reasoned, why not re-use the otherwise redundant display module, re-labelled appropriately, and provide a simple fault display somewhere that the driver can more readily interpret? It would require a dedicated output module on the PLC (we've got a few to go at) and where to locate it requires some thought, but as I need to upgrade the software anyway to incorporate the level switch in the tank, (which would require another sky-blue-flashing-pink error code on the one existing LED) I will give it some serious consideration.

So during this week we are scheduled to complete the deal with Colas whereby the PCV changes ownership, and I commented tonight to Andrew that we must get around to making the broken cab windows weathertight. Then there's Phoenix's visit and some other enthusiasts expected, and a few of Team Frod are on call to assist in stewarding. Now, where can I find to put that donation tin nice and prominent?

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